Earlier today, the offices of “bank like” Bitcoin service provider Neo opened in Cyprus. The company provides many of the financial services of a bank, such as savings and business accounts, as well as providing access to funds through a debit card-like system powered by their sister company, Bee. The launch is already being hailed as a milestone in Bitcoin history, providing the major first brick-and-mortar alternative to traditional banking.
It’s no accident that the U.K. held company is launching in Cyprus. Last year, following the events of the Greek debt crisis, the Cypriot government was forced into a bailout deal that resulted in every depositor losing between 6.7% and 9.9% of their deposits in an extremely controversial “bank deposit levy.” The fallout from that agreement rocked the European banking world, and also helped to draw attention to alternative forms of currency, such as Bitcoin.
According to a report on CoinDesk, one of Neo’s biggest differences from traditional banking might help spur adoption in banking skeptical Cyprus.
Anyone can audit the company at any time and prove their funds are indeed being held in reserve, since Neo’s addresses will be available for inspection on the bitcoin block chain. Even if the company disappears, the bitcoins are still yours.
The company is currently at work opening their second location in Cyprus, with doors opening sometime in March. Although Neo is currently operating only in Cyprus, the company has announced plans to expand services into other parts of the European Union in the near future.
Here’s Neo & Bee’s promotional video.